Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Leading through Lockdown 3 with John Stevens and a panel of FIEC pastors.
1. The great challenge that we face is that we have a dangerous and difficult journey to the City of God. But we have a great God, the covenanting-creator who will help and protect and He assures us that He will bring us safely to our destination.
2. Coronavirus Law & Guidance Update:
– In England places of worship remain open for communal worship.
– Churches can open for public worship and to broadcast/record.
– Outdoor worship in church garden, courtyard, car park is permitted.
– Churches cannot open for indoor prayer meetings/study groups but can for ‘support groups’ of max 15.
– Funerals are allowed for up to 30 attenders, but weddings now only in ‘exceptional circumstances’ with a max of 6 attenders.
– Sunday School and children’s groups cannot take place unless it is for child care of key workers or vulnerable children. Though Sunday School is seen by us as part of corporate worship, as soon as you’ve got children leaving parents, the government would consider it to fall under ‘out of school’ activities.
– Advice continues to be no congregational singing, and it recommended that only 1 singer (max 3) is used (Is more than 1 singer essential to our worship services?) Recorded singing is preferential. The positive permission at Christmas on outdoor singing has been removed from the guidance.
– Social distancing requirements remain the same. Public Health England spoke to Place of Worship task force to say even with new strain of virus, current social distancing are fine.
– Even though people can attend places of worship, guidance is to stay local and not travel any considerable distance.
3. With the vaccination programme in place, churches are urged to abide by law and guidance. The freedoms churches are able to enjoy is because of the way they have been implementing the guidance. Compliance is being monitored across denominations.
4. FIEC have updated their FAQs.
5. Whilst abiding by and obeying the law and guidance, there is flexibility for different churches to act in different ways according to what they believe is wise and best in their context.
6. General consensus is that levels of fear and anxiety have risen within church families because of the virus is spreading. People are feeling low, disappointed. These feelings are cumulative because this is the third part of a long stretch without any breaks. There is some hope because of the vaccine. With the rollout of the vaccine, people are taking less risks in terms of coming out to in person church meetings.
7. Some churches are remaining open for services (hybrid), others have moved back to online only. This is largely dependent on local situation regarding the virus, the make up of the church community, and resources to run physical services. In some situations, churches have decided to close because the congregation no longer willing to attend (voting with feet). In some settings where churches hire premises, the decision has been taken out of their hands.
8. Pray for people in the church in the morning and contact them afterwards. Ask them what the best way of doing this is.
9. Encourage one-anothering across the congregation.
10. Smaller is best on Zoom. Why not put organise groups of 2 in breakout rooms as that feels more like talking to someone over coffee after church.
11. Is this an opportunity to do/try something different with your evening service?
12. Children’s and youth work and evangelism at the moment is just hard.
13. In this emotionally exhausting time, it is important for leaders to attend to their own hearts. Important to use devotional time to replenish joy in the Lord (ideas for how to do this – listen to good Christian music to help feel the truth, listen to passionate preaching that proclaims the gospel, lean more on the insights of others).
14. Practice the discipline of thankfulness. How did I see God’s grace yesterday? Where do I need God’s grace today? How can I show God’s grace today?
15. Do you need to slow down? To pack less into your diary and create more margin time?
16. Don’t be overwhelmed by what others are able to do.
17. Exercise. Go for a walk or run each day.